Another harrowing tale with a happy ending

HICKMAN, Calif. — Two thousand feet above rolling pasture southwest of Turlock Lake, flight instructor Ken Kwan knew he had a problem.

Kwan, 28, was in the middle of a lesson with his student, Daniel Yang, 25, of China. The men had taken off in a Cessna 152 from Castle Airport in Atwater at 9:30 a.m. and were flying over their usual training ground east of Denair and Hickman.

About 40 minutes into the lesson, and 10 miles from the nearest airport, the engine cut out and Kwan saw smoke in the cabin. The propeller stopped spinning. Kwan knew he had to land.

"At 2,000 feet, there was no way we could make it to the airport," he said.

The plane was falling about 500 feet a minute. So Kwan scanned the ground for power lines and cows. All he was thinking, he said, was that he needed to keep his student safe and land the plane intact.

"I picked a spot by the road, so rescue people could find us," isaid Kwan, who lives in Atwater but is from Los Angeles.

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